UK adopts fisheries management plans to maximize post-Brexit opportunities

U.K. Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont standing by the oceanside.

The U.K. government has announced a new package of measures aimed at alleviating the struggles the country’s fishing industry has faced post-Brexit.

According to the U.K. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), the latest reforms – unveiled on 17 July, 2023 – will enable the industry to seize on opportunities from existing outside of the European Union. It said measures will involve the introduction of aworld-class system of fisheries management” that draws on the best available science and the expertise of U.K. fishers to ensure fish stocks remain healthy and sustainable.

Aiming to help an industry beleaguered by labor woes, logistical red tape, and disputes with the E.U. regarding fishing rights following the U.K.’s departure from the E.U., the new system will rely on fisheries management plans (FMPs), which Defra said are essentially blueprints for how best to manage fish stocks.

Defra immediately published the first six plans, which include strategies for crab and lobster, whelk, king scallops, bass, non-quota demersal stocks, and southern North Sea and Eastern English Channel mixed flatfish.

Developed over 18 months, the objective of the FMPs is to deliver on commitments originally codified in the U.K. Fisheries Act of 2020. They include measures that both protect stocks, such as seasonal closures or the implementation of scientific studies, and long-term approaches that reference up-to-date scientific evidence. U.K. authorities aim to eventually put forth 43 FMPs.

The newly announced strategy also outlines support for small vessels (under 10 meters) by removing a cap on quotas to which they must adhere, opening up more potential income for smaller businesses, according to Defra. More than 400 such vessels in England are currently subject to a 350-kilogram limit regarding the amount of finfish they can haul in annually. Defra is looking to permanently remove the cap starting 1 January, 2024.

There will also be a consultation authorizing the government’s vision for 

Photo courtesy of the office of John Lamont

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